Difference Between JV and Varsity

JV vs Varsity

JV and Varsity are terms commonly used for athletic teams representing high schools, colleges, and universities. These terms are used mostly in US and Canada and not in other western countries. Varsity is a term that is obviously used for more experienced teams while JV, JayVee or Junior Varsity are terms that are usually reserved for players and teams that obviously lack experience and are not ready to play varsity games. But is this the only difference between JV and varsity or there is more than that meets the eye? Let us find out in this article.


Varsity is a term that is reserved for the top team or the most experienced team made up of strongest players that will represent the institution in sporting events. The players in a varsity team are usually the best that a college or a High School has, and fit and experienced enough to represent the team of the institution in sporting events.

Varsity teams contain students that belong to both 11th and 12th standards. However, in rare circumstances, a varsity team may have a sophomore in their ranks. A sophomore is a student in class 10. Even a freshman sometimes may have skills better than those found in 11th and 12th grades students and might find a place in the varsity team.


Junior varsity or JV are the teams comprised of secondary rung players who are not deemed experienced or fit enough to play for varsity teams. JV teams have sophomores and freshmen who do not find a place in the varsity teams. JV teams have thus under experienced and under sized players who have to develop strength and size later on to pass on to the varsity level.

A coach decides which players are to play in JV team and obviously those who have inferior skills get a place in the JV whereas more skilled, faster and having more strength find a place in the varsity team. JV players get greeted with slang terms such as mop up players, bench warmers, and second stringers. Their play is described as garbage minutes.

What is the difference between JV and Varsity?

• Varsity team has the more skilled, faster, and stronger players than JV team.

• It is the varsity team that gets a chance to represent the institution.

• Varsity team is made up of 11th grade and 12th grade students whereas JV teams are made up of sophomores and freshmen.

• Coaches use JV teams to have budding and aspiring players and hope to improve their skills to play later for varsity teams.

• Varsity teams are more skillful than JV teams.

• Players in Varsity teams are physically more strong and taller and bulkier than players in JV teams.